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2020 GA Capitol Update: Week 6

Following a week purely devoted to budget hearings and committee hearings, the Senate retuned this week ready to resume our routine of passing bills and recognizing special guests in the Senate Chamber. Our productivity was reflected in the eight bills we passed this week, as well the important discussions we held in our committee meetings.

Of those eight bills, several of them would place a special emphasis on helping Georgia’s children in need. Senate Bill 335 would help support our state’s foster children and prospective foster parents by reducing some of the mandated training requirements for foster parents, adding certain data collection and tracking procedures for the Clerk of the Juvenile Court and would allow the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services to contract with more child placing agencies to increase the options a child has to find a home. Every child deserves a supportive home and this bill streamlines the process for foster parents to connect with Georgia’s children in need.

In keeping with the theme of helping Georgia’s children, we also passed Senate Bill 345, which became known as the “Save Our Sandwiches” bill. This bill addresses a few oversights in Georgia law that prohibited a non-profit organization from distributing handmade sandwiches as part of a summer food program for kids. As a result, the organization was forced to purchase sandwiches to give out, leading to higher expenditures. SB 345 would allow nonprofits to prepare handmade food items for distribution, as long as they meet state food safety requirements. This bill will ensure that this program has the resources they need to continue to feed children, while also minimizing any public health concerns.

This week, we also held a few additional rounds of Appropriations subcommittee hearings to discuss any potential changes agencies may have for the Amended Fiscal Year 2020 budget since it received passage in the House. While these subcommittees did not determine that many changes would be necessary, including the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Appropriations subcommittee which I chair, it is always important to ensure that each cent of the state budget is allocated fairly and responsibly. You can never be too careful when analyzing legislation as crucial as the budget. Next week, the Senate is scheduled to return for an even busier week, consisting of five legislative days and committee meetings. We also expect to take up the Amended Fiscal Year 2020 budget next week, as they House passed their version earlier in the week. While there likely will not be much down time in the coming weeks as we prepare for Crossover Day, I am never too busy to hear from you or address and questions or concerns you may have.  If there is ever anything I can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. I am here to serve you.

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Sen. John Albers serves as Chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He represents the 56th Senate District which includes portions of Cherokee and North Fulton counties. He may be reached at his office at 404.463.8055 or by email at john.albers@senate.ga.gov